Near the end of the Ames Republican presidential debate Thursday evening, GOP candidate and former pizza magnate Herman Cain concluded his remarks by quoting an unnamed “poet” whose verses he has cited in public appearances for at least the last eight years. But as New York Magazine first pointed out early Friday, Cain’s muse wasn’t Shakespeare or Byron. It was Pokemon, the once-popular movies and TV shows preferred by nerdy ten-year-olds.
“A poet once said,” Cain intoned during the debate, that “life can be a challenge, life can seem impossible, but it’s never easy when there’s so much on the line.”
The “life can be a challenge” lyric, from a song titled “The Power of One,” has appeared in Cain’s writings and speeches since the Japanese pocket monsters dominated tween culture zeitgeist.
In an interview with The Daily Caller after greeting Iowans at the Iowa State Fair on Friday, Cain said he wasn’t aware his favorite verses came from a children’s movie.
“I first heard those words sung to the song that was the closing song to the 2000 Olympics,” he stated. “And Donna Summer may have sung it, but I don’t remember.”
Cain may genuinely be oblivious to the line’s nerdy origins: He frequently cites the piece as “the closing song of the 2000 Olympics.” But Donna Summer, who performed the song, does not appear on the Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony’s set list, nor does the song.
Cain’s apparent love of these words dates back to at least 2003, when he cited the lyrics in a September 28 “Hour of Power” sermon about finding life’s purpose. He even quotes “The Power of One” in his 2005 book, “They Think You’re Stupid: Why Democrats lost your vote and what Republicans must do to keep it,” again attributing it to the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Now the cartoon lyrics are receiving more significant play from the Cain camp. Cain closed his 2010 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference with the kid-flick lyrics. And on May 21, he cited the lyrics again — appropriating even more verses from the song — when he launched his presidential campaign.
“But you and I can make a difference,” Cain told supporters. “There’s a mission just for you, there’s a mission just for me. Just look inside and you will find just what you can do.”
He also used the line while stumping during a July 17 Republican Southern Leadership Conference in New Orleans, and at a June 18 Americans for Prosperity event in Minneapolis. (RELATED: Full coverage of Herman Cain’s candidacy)
Written in 2000, “The Power of One” was sung by disco-era diva Donna Summer and played over the ending credits of “Pokemon: the Movie 2000.” Weird Al Yankovic also contributed an original song to the film, titled “Polkamon.”
Alex Pappas contributed to this report.